Faculty, staff, alumni, and students have played important roles in advancing the recommendations of the Ferguson Commission. This panel brings together key university leaders to provide examples of current and future work that can inspire change and advance racial equity in our region.


Mark S. Wrighton, Chancellor


Provost Holden Thorp

In his role as provost, Holden Thorp oversees the academic pursuits of all of the university’s undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools. In addition, he holds an endowed chair in chemistry and medicine.

Before coming to Washington University, Thorp was chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He also has founded multiple companies, and his most recent book is titled Engines of Innovation, which focuses on entrepreneurship.

He is a member of the National Security Higher Education Advisory Board, and he chaired a committee for the National Academy of Sciences charged with promoting safety in academic laboratories.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from UNC and a doctorate in chemistry from the California Institute of Technology.


Sheretta Butler-Barnes, Assistant Professor of Social Work, Brown School

Butler-Barnes is a developmental psychologist and has expertise and scholarly work on the impact of racism and the use of culturally strengths-based assets on the educational and health outcomes of black American families. She is one of the directors of the Brown School’s Collaboration on Race, Inequalities, and Social Mobility in America (CRISMA); a Washington University Faculty Fellow with the Institute for School Partnership; and co-chair of our MSW/MAEd program.

Before coming to Brown, Butler-Barnes was a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Michigan’s School of Education affiliated with the Center for the Study of Black Youth in Context. Butler-Barnes received her PhD and master’s degree from Wayne State University in psychology and a bachelor’s in psychology from Michigan State University.

The two lines of her research agenda include: 1) Strengths-Based Assets of Black Adolescents Project, which explores how black youth draw on personal and cultural assets and resources to thrive despite challenges to their identities from structural racism; and 2) Celebrating Strengths of Black Girls Project, which focuses on advancing equity for women and girls of color by creating culturally responsive programming that promotes resiliency.

Dedric Carter, Vice Chancellor for Operations & Technology Transfer and Professor of Engineering Practice

Carter serves as the senior executive officer for many key university operations and also is responsible for the Office of Technology Management. He teaches courses in systems applications to technical, business and policy issues with an emphasis on the entrepreneurial process and new venture creation.

Prior to his present role, Carter was associate provost and associate vice chancellor for innovation and entrepreneurship at Washington University. Prior to joining the university in 2013, he served as the senior advisor for strategic initiatives in the Office of the Director at the U.S. National Science Foundation. He previously was an assistant dean of engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and a senior principal consultant in IT strategy and management.

Carter has undergraduate and graduate degrees in electrical engineering and computer science from MIT, an MBA from MIT’s Sloan School of Management, and a PhD in Information Systems from Nova Southeastern University.

Julia Ho, Founder, Solidarity Economy St. Louis

Ho is the founder of Solidarity Economy St. Louis, a network of groups and individuals building an economy based on the values of justice, sustainability, self-determination, and cooperation. From 2014–2016, she worked with Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment (MORE) on campaigns for municipal court reform while providing movement infrastructure support during the Ferguson Uprising.

Currently, she is working to incubate black cooperatives, advocate for food justice, and promote community development of vacant land through Solidarity Economy St. Louis.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy, neuroscience, and psychology from Washington University.

Olivia Marcucci, Doctoral Student, Department of Education

Marcucci’s research focuses on the overarching question of whether American schools can become anti-racist institutions. Her dissertation, currently titled Ecologically Situated Interaction Analyses of Discipline Disproportionality, argues for a social ecological understanding of the over-disciplining of black students in American schools and pays particular attention to how face-to-face interactional patterns are a medium through which structural forces like white supremacy are mapped onto the daily realities of students and teachers in one high school in St. Louis.

Her work is applied and solution-oriented by nature: she collaborates with educators and students to reshape school communities. In 2017, her first co-edited volume was released by Emerald Group Publishing. The Power of Resistance: Culture, Ideology and Social Reproduction in Global Contexts centralizes the role of education, broadly defined, in resistance movements like Ferguson and the Arab Spring. Marcucci also holds a Master of Social Work degree from Washington University. During her master’s, she worked in both Saint Louis Public Schools and University City School District facilitating social–emotional interventions and curricula
to middle schoolers.

Karen Tokarz, the Charles Nagel Professor of Public Interest Law

Tokarz is an internationally recognized expert in dispute resolution and clinical legal education. Her scholarship addresses public interest law issues, including civil rights, judicial selection, clinical legal education, negotiation, and mediation. As the founder of the law school’s Global Public Interest Law & Conflict Resolution Initiative, she has over the past 16 years coordinated field placements for more than 200 law students with legal aid offices, human rights organizations, and tribunals in South Africa, Ghana, Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya, Burkina Faso, Somalia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Israel,  Australia, Singapore, and China. Tokarz also is the coordinator of the law school’s Public Interest Law & Policy Speakers Series and the advisor for the Journal of Law & Policy. She is the recipient of several teaching and client advocacy awards, including Washington University’s Founders Day Distinguished Faculty Award, the Student Bar Assocation Experiential Professor of the Year, and the Black Law Student Association (BLSA) Instructor of the Year.

Tokarz served on the Ferguson Commission Municipal Working Group and co-chairs the Municipal Justice subcommittee of the Missouri Supreme Court Commission on Racial & Ethnic Fairness. She currently serves as a Missouri Supreme Court monitor for the St. Louis County Municipal Courts. She is a member of the advisory committee for the National Center for State Courts National Task Force on Fines, Fees & Bail Practices, and has participated in recent conclaves on fees, fines, and bail practices at the White House, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the Southern Poverty Law Center.